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Rec Special Uses

This group provides a community and support network for those who are working on or grappling with rec special uses issues. The goal is to help one another learn and continue to move our programs forward.

Members: 45
Latest Activity: Feb 22, 2017

Please invite anyone that you know that might contribute to discussions about special uses to this group.

Discussion Forum

Forest service drops prosecution of kiddie picnic after Murkowski intervenes

Started by Francisco Valenzuela. Last reply by Julie Rowe Aug 19, 2013. 1 Reply

 Forest service drops prosecution of kiddie picnic after Murkowski intervenes After Alaska lawmakers held a summit to voice frustration about the federal government, Sen. Lisa Murkowski intervened to…Continue

Outfitters, guides urge House panel to cut regs, grant more access

Started by Francisco Valenzuela. Last reply by Julie Rowe May 22, 2013. 2 Replies

From: Bekkerus, Steven M -FS Sent: Wednesday, May 08, 2013 11:34 AMTo: Twaroski, Jim -FS; Harris, David A -FS; Liggett, Chris -FSCc: Koopman, Alison T -FS; Gaudry, Jimmy C -FS; Caffin, Deborah -FS;…Continue

Example Decision Memo for a rec special use permit?

Started by Bjorn Fredrickson. Last reply by Julie Rowe Feb 4, 2013. 2 Replies

Does anyone have a great DM for a rec special use permit that could be used as an example for others to learn from? On our district ours are all 10 years old or older, and I wonder if what might be…Continue

Multiple Year Single Use Recreation Event Permits

Started by Spencer Bleadorn. Last reply by Julie Rowe Feb 4, 2013. 2 Replies

Greetings eveyone.  Our district, and Forest, has several groups that hold recreation events on an annual basis.  The events are trail running, equestrian events, mountain biking, things like that. …Continue

Comment Wall


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Comment by Karen O'Leary on April 23, 2012 at 12:53pm

Susan's comment reminded me that I meant to respond to this topic earlier. Better late than never, I guess.

After a long public battle and many discussions with the Washington Office, Region 10 developed policy on memorials that's different from the national policy. In Alaska, a temporary single small private memorial may be placed on the National Forest in memory of someone who died on the Forest or at sea. I've attached the R10 supplement to the manual FSM2720. I bring this up because there's always the question of consistent application of policy. Someone is bound to say "Ranger XYZ let me do it in Alaska".

There are numerous requests to plant a tree or design an interpretive sign or build a bench to commemorate a loved one and not just for those that die on the Forest. I urge caution on going down this path...we will end up with a hodge-podge of plantings and site furnishings that run counter to good design principles. In my experience, encouraging grieving family and friends to worthy charities  like the National Forest Foundation or the interpretive associations that do Forest projects was a welcome suggestion during a difficult time. Working with a concessionaire is possible but any interp signs or benches, etc. need to be approved by the Forest Service and that process can quickly become too bureaucratic for grieving family members.


Comment by Susan Johnson on April 18, 2012 at 8:29pm

Unauthorized memorials do occur and are sensitive.  Making contact with mourners, taking time to understand the circumstances and work with their grief can take time.  (I'm thinking of tragic deaths which have occurred on National Forest lands).  Mourners have been successfully steered to work with private concessionaires to incorporate art work, a bench or other item into the concession facility.  

Comment by Francisco Valenzuela on February 1, 2012 at 3:25pm

Perhaps there is no official policy but we should be operating with the awareness of certain sensitivities on the part of tribes in particular -- we have heard in the course of sacred sites policy discussions that cremains are particularly troublesome. Spreading ashes (which are seldom just ashes) on places that are used for ceremonial purposes or subsistence related activities is a serious affront to traditional practitioners and may well jeopardize tribal relations that took years to build. Please do not regard this as an innocuous activity.

-= Will=-
William G. Reed, RPA
Regional Heritage Program Leader and
Heritage Program Liaison to the Office of Tribal Relations and
National Passport in Time Program Manager and
(from December 2011 through February 2012)
Acting Director for Recreation, Heritage, Wilderness, and Volunteer Programs

Comment by Francisco Valenzuela on February 1, 2012 at 3:15pm

Attached is the direction I received when I asked about memorials.
"Memorials are not permitted on National Forest Systems lands. Memorials are considered "permanent use of public lands" and therefore would require a special use authorization. No legal authority has been granted to the National Forest System to provide for permanent use of National Forest System lands by a special use authorization."
See attached document for more details. I have not seen memorials taken down if put up without permission unless they are presenting a hazard (ie) distraction of having a memorial on a narrow, winding road. It is a sensitive issue when these need to be removed.Background%20Memorial%20Request%2003%2029%2006.doc

Comment by Francisco Valenzuela on February 1, 2012 at 2:10pm


Can anyone offer some good methods for dealing with unauthorized placements of memorials? I realize the prohibition against it, but as many of you know, we often find out about them after they have been installed for a time. Dealing with them can be very sensitive for FS employees and the families of the people being memorialized.

One idea a coworker had was to replace the memorial with a bench that can serve everyone who uses the facility. I believe I also have seen a plaque on a picnic table in a campground at one time.

Can anyone provide some other ideas and information on whether and how the policy might allow for such alternatives to actual memorials?

Thank you!



Somewhat off the topic, from what I understand, there is no official policy to prevent spreading of ashes. In other words, it is allowed.


As we have been requested to "reply all" for RecTalk questions, I can only answer in a very "UNOFFICIAL", off-the-record capacity. I think you have a very clear understanding of the policy regarding memorials. So I am going to need you to read between the lines here.

I work on a Forest where this issue comes up all the time. "What I have seen done…" is action by non-action. If there is a makeshift cross or memorial by the side of a city, county, or state roadway, "I have seen…" the Forest in question just leave it there. I am guessing that their thinking is that it falls in the right-of-way for the jurisdiction of the roadway. Because Forest Service employees are always so busy, I am guessing that Forest Service personnel leave it up to the city, county, or state to deal with. Plus, I am also guessing that it is just too sticky of a subject that a Forest Service employee doesn't want to handle it directly. You seeing what I'm seeing?

Also, "I have seen…" that if someone is adamant about releasing ashes, then most of the time the Forest Service employee is not aware of the location or time that the event is happening. If someone wants to plant a tree or plant in memoriam, "I have seen…" that the Forest Service employee has informed them that it is illegal to plant trees or other items on Forest Service lands, especially if they are non-native or stand out in any way. You getting this?

"I have also seen…" people wanting to "donate" a bench, tree, or cash donation to their local Forest Service office. If they are wanting to donate a bench or something to that effect, "I have seen…" people go to their local "Friends of xxx" group and have the registered Friends group work with the Forest Service to "accept" the "donation". Sometimes, depending on where the passing had occurred, a campground concessionaire is willing to have an outside entity pay for their benches, trash cans, restroom remodeling, etc. You following me here?

If you have any other questions, please feel free to call me directly and I will be glad to continue this discussion off-the-record.


Rudy Bowen
Recreation Planner
Coconino National Forest
Flagstaff Ranger District
5075 North Highway 89
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
928-527-8222 (desk)
928-266-5822 (cell)
928-527-8288 (fax)

Subject: Need Help with Memorials Placed on NFS Lands


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